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 Non-barbarian tribesmen: How would you do it?
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KnightErrantJR
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  03:30:51  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Okay, so the D&D barbarian is a lot like the Northern European barbarian, with a good deal of Conan thrown in for good measure. They are bold and brash, they rage in battle, generally distrust magic, often live by raiding or by working as mercenaries, and tend to have relatively simple codes of honor and quick and dirty taboos about things, and in the Conan vein, can often ignore such taboos if they need to accomplish something momentous enough.

But what I am thinking about is warriors that live in harsh environments, just like standard barbarians, but have much more complex codes of behavior. They don't have organized cities, and have to live off of nature, and they may end up raiding and using arms often to defend the tribe, but they are less "gut feeling" and "taboo" and much more tribal honor, family honor, religious code, and dicipline. I'm thinking of mainly clans of desert nomads, who, while still battle hardened and attunded to living in nature, don't seem like the type that would be chaotic, and most likely would be lawful in alignment.

If you were trying to design a core class that was like a barbarian, but was a wilderness warrior that was "any alignment except chaotic" sort of organized nomad tribe, how would you do it? One of my biggest stumbling blocks has been what you would even call the class. Nomad? But what if the tribe in question is fairly set where they live?

Any ideas on this one, and has anyone else had this thought?

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

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Beirnadri Magranth
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  03:50:32  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage  Send Beirnadri Magranth an AOL message Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm glad to finally get a chance to respond to one of your topics not the other way around!

We both agree that calling such a class 'Nomad' would be inaccurate. One way to approach naming the class is through existing elements of the class' behavior or customs. For example, 'Berserker' comes from 'Bear-Saerk', or- 'Bear Shirt'. The tribesman could be named in a similar way. Without knowing anything really about the tribe you create, it is hard for me to come up with an example appropriate to your tribe (using its symbols).

My impression of the culture of a more lawful tribe is similar to that of the Native Americans, the Tribes of the early Fertile Crescent (and biblical times as well).
There seems to be an attachment to tradition (religious traditions mostly) in these cultures which stabilizes their roving tribal behavior. This contrasts our stereotypical association of barbarians and tribes where the tribespeople (barbarians etc.) are dominated by a fear of oblivion and therefore resort to violence to immortalize themselves as heroes.

It's interesting that when trying to imagine a new culture we look to worldly examples. This is something I struggled alot with as a DM . I really wish I had the power to create things that are unique and not based on past examples.
Anyways, the existence of Lawfulness as a theme of these tribesmen allows interesting developments of traditions and bizarre (to us at least) customs.

off-topic a little: Tribes of Africa commonly have a matriarchal societal structure. Maybe african desert tribes could provide an interesting starting point on your quest to develop the culture.

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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KnightErrantJR
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  03:55:43  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, to tell the truth, the main thing that got me thinking of this was the Bedine in Anauroch, and as you said, when I think of lawful tribes in harsh conditions that have to be battle ready, I do think of either tribes like the Isrealites and other Semitic tribes in the Middle East in biblical time, or Bedouin of later time periods (obviously a link to the Bedine here).

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

http://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/

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Beirnadri Magranth
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  04:08:53  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage  Send Beirnadri Magranth an AOL message Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
yeah I would have liked the bedine to be described more fully in game stats. i really would like to see a prestige class for tehm specifically.

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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Kentinal
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  04:28:25  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One place you might look at are tribes of the Smericas, some clearly were farmers, more of the East Coast, the Plains Indians some were nomads, some were appear to have been more fixed in location, then there are West Coast Indians of which some were fisherman. Tribe structures also existed in Celt cultures and so on. A lot of regions of the Middle East still is very much tribal as well. Oh before I forget, South Aneric tribes were gathered into empires. There is so many tribal stuctures to look at you can pick and choose which atrubutes you wish to include in defrining a class. The whole range is there, including honor, justice, blood oaths, so many religions that you could develope many deities.

One posible class name you might consider could be Tribal folk though that is cumberson and might not convey image of archtype you are seeking to create.

Perhaps the best way to find your name is decide first which tribal atributes you want the class to have out of the many different tribal stuctures, then see how close the class you craft resembles a tribe of current or past of the RW. You might call them Indian, Celt, Bharmin, etc.

There again perhaps you should not listen to me because I do not believe barbarian should be a class at all (let alone a core class).

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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KnightErrantJR
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  04:49:07  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Still focusing on the harsh environment/strict social structure thing, the best name I have come up with so far would be Challenger, denoting a single minded devotion to something that the tribesman is working toward, either in defeating a foe in combat, or surviving in a harsh environment.

For class abilities I was thinking of an ability similar to a rage but more of a single minded focus thing, perhaps a "rage" that only lasts for as long as the Challenger (name still subject to change) is fighting the main target of his efforts.

Also, as I picture standard barbarians as being nominally proficient in a lot of weapons, learning to use strength with most of them to the best effect, I picture these guys as perhaps gaining a weapon focus with a type of weapon that the tribe often uses, showing that they teach technique and focus over general power and nominal skill.

I would restrict them to light armor only, as even if they aren't from, say, Anarauch, I would imagine that they would have to focus on moving quickly to hunt and travel, etc.

So for class abilities I have the following so far:



1)Weapon focus in tribal favored weapon

2)Single minded focus type "rage" ability

3)Light armors only

4)Perhaps a survival bonus ability in their native terrain

5)Possibly a favored enemy type ability

6)Fast movement?

7)Bonus to Will save due to natural stubborness?

8)Evasion?

9)This is a wild one, but perhaps a Will save substitution for reflex save

10)This would be a chance to make a warrior class with good will saves



Now, I'm not as proficient with rules doctoring as some of my compatriots (I can cut and paste abilities with the best of them, but a class from the ground up is a whole other thing), so if any of our more rules oriented scribes want to help me hammer this into something balanced as a core class, feel free to jump in with some suggestions . . .

And for the thoughts that I have gotten so far, thanks, and keep them coming . . .

Not sure I really like Challenger either . . . but the good warrior nouns are all taken!


"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

http://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/

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BlackAce
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  08:57:57  Show Profile Send BlackAce a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm trying to think of suitable terms for what you seem to be describing, KEJr. I keep coming up with cultures rather than classes though. Two ideas I'm partial to are 'Wild Hunter', 'Wayfarer' and 'Clanner' (Well, ok, three).

This looks an interesting class, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


The best backstories are longer than a sentence and shorter than a page.

Edited by - BlackAce on 09 Feb 2006 08:58:51
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Winterfox
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  12:13:44  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Take a look at the Fremen from Dune? They very much fit in with the "warriors in a harsh environment" and are as far from the "northern barbarian" stereotype as you get. I'd say that they don't resemble the Bedine that much, either, and have a much more complete culture.
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Bluenose
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Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  16:47:44  Show Profile  Visit Bluenose's Homepage Send Bluenose a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure what you'd call such people - Clansfolk or Tribal Warrior are the only things that come into my mind.

As for abilities, you might want to try giving more than one option, with a series of abilities coming at different levels depending on the type of character being played. You could give mounted nomads the feat Skill Focus (Ride) at 1st level, Mounted Combat at 5th, and Mounted Archery at 9th. Arctic hunters could have Stealthy, Endurance, and maybe a little Energy Resistance (Cold).

Other class features I'd suggest.

Favoured Terrain, similar to a Ranger's favoured enemy but specific to the characters environment. It probably shouldn't include the combat bonuses, and should not increase as rapidly as the Ranger's favoured enemy.

I wouldn't give them Martial Weapon Proficiency by default, but restrict it to a few weapons that their particular culture favours. I would give them Medium armour proficiency - Hide armours aren't uncommon. For that matter, there are plenty of "tribal" cultures from history that made quite advanced types of armour and weapons.

The Iron Will feat free at 1st level. I can see a case for any saving throw to be good, but I wouldn't want all of them to be and I think Fortitude and Reflex saves are more appropriate. I'd still like them to have a better Will save than other warriors though.

Animal Empathy might also be an interesting ability, possibly restricted to one particular type of animal that the tribe identifies as it's totem beast.

Rage wouldn't be out of the question. Possibly some sort of "Focus" ability, where the character gained bonuses while pursuing a particular obsession but suffered a penalty when doing other things might be a better idea. If they fail at the task, they should probably suffer some serious penalties for a time.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
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Beowulf
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Canada
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  00:09:01  Show Profile  Visit Beowulf's Homepage Send Beowulf a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I would think that an educated look at the tribal cultures of NW Europe would serve as as good a standard as any. These people went from being a collection of extended families with barely an ounce of iron between them, to being the rulers of the West world precisely because they knew how to work together. And precisely becasue of the chaotic mess the Roman Empire had become.

Also, numerous missionaries weren't martyred while converting the Conitental German tribes due to some "barbaric hatred of a refined and enlightened religion". In fact, Christian missionaires were initially well received whereever they went in the North, and well provided for for the extent of their stay. Of course, that all changed once the missionaries began showing up and getting right down to breaking tribal religious taboos. Such crimes against the gods were customarily left to the judgement of the gods ... which was determined by the casting of lots ... provided the folk in power could get to the wretch first. Heck, the Frisians waited decades before they were at last able to get their hands on Boniface. And then they each went away with a piece of him.

Anyway, tribesman would be a fine name for ... something like a "class kit", as all tribes have their warriors, their elite warriors, their poets, their wonderworkers and shamen, et al.

"Ill tempered the wretch, who laughs at everyone. He cannot recognize, as he should, that he is not without faults." the High One, Poetic Edda
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Beirnadri Magranth
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  02:28:16  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage  Send Beirnadri Magranth an AOL message Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Winterfox

Take a look at the Fremen from Dune? They very much fit in with the "warriors in a harsh environment" and are as far from the "northern barbarian" stereotype as you get. I'd say that they don't resemble the Bedine that much, either, and have a much more complete culture.



i was thinking this but not sure if the forums would appreciate it...

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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GungHo
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  14:56:40  Show Profile  Visit GungHo's Homepage Send GungHo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you're looking for recently-published material, Shining South has some information on Shaaran culture and there are a few things in the FRCS about Chult, if you're looking for a sub-Saharan African bent on things.

For other sources, the Fremen of Dune would be good, as would the Aiel from Wheel of Time, though for both you'd have to take some of the setting flavor away.
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Winterfox
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  16:40:42  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GungHo

For other sources, the Fremen of Dune would be good, as would the Aiel transplanted Fremen rip-off from Wheel Waste of Time


There, all corrected. No, no need to thank me.
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ShadowJack
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  17:35:41  Show Profile  Visit ShadowJack's Homepage Send ShadowJack a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good suggestion GungHo!

The Aiel are a great suggestion for KEJr. They are a strictly ordered culture with ways that seem "barbaric" to outsiders. Also, as a culture, they focus on tribal weapons with strong social prejudices againist using others (swords).
I think, that to get away from the D & D Barbarian stereotype, I would leave out any Rage capability. The weapon focus for tribal weapons would be a great substitute. Maybe a special feat that the tribesmen can perform with his favored weapon. A feat that is improved when he is "focused" on his challenge or goal... Just a few thoughts...

ShadowJack
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Vangelor
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Posted - 10 Feb 2006 :  21:29:25  Show Profile  Visit Vangelor's Homepage Send Vangelor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see this as a Class problem, really, so much as deciding which extant classes best represent tribal roles. Even lawful societies need channels for the high spirits of non-lawfully-inclined members, and this seems to be one of the roles served by (tardition-and-taboo-bound) warbands of erealy European tribal cultures. (I am most familiar with the fianna of Ireland, but analogues can be found in Germanic cultures as well).

Personally, I would use Fighter, Ranger, and yes, Barbarian as appropriate for PCs, and perhaps Warrior as an NPC class. To give the group a distinct feel, some Regional or specilaty feats would serve just as adequately and perhaps more flexibly than a class.

In fact, I have done something similar with a tribal (but not barbarous) group of green-elf clans in my Cormanthor campaign. Tribal cultures often do have various specialized roles, and warrior is often one of the most restricted (to keep things from becomeing to unstable) by taboos, traditions and obligations regarding conduct.
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scererar
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Posted - 11 Feb 2006 :  18:34:48  Show Profile Send scererar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
KEJR,

reading your post, made me think along the lines of Riverwind from the dragonlance setting ( sorry guys for the other than FR comment). To me anyway, the character to steers away from the conan muscle bound barbarians stereotype and focuses more on the culture of the tribes and survival in harsh environments. almost a ranger like society

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Myssa Rei
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Posted - 11 Feb 2006 :  23:19:58  Show Profile  Visit Myssa Rei's Homepage Send Myssa Rei a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oddly enough, when I thought of a 'different' type of barbarian, Riverwind and his people popped into mind--hunters that relied more on guile than screaming-blood-frenzy-induced strength. They're more like rangers in that capacity, but this is probably because of the Native American influences in how they were designed.

Never underestimate the power of a good story.
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Beowulf
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Posted - 12 Feb 2006 :  17:10:55  Show Profile  Visit Beowulf's Homepage Send Beowulf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Vangelor

In fact, I have done something similar with a tribal (but not barbarous) group of green-elf clans in my Cormanthor campaign. Tribal cultures often do have various specialized roles, and warrior is often one of the most restricted (to keep things from becomeing to unstable) by taboos, traditions and obligations regarding conduct.



Exactly. We have a skewed image of the old cultures of NW Europe due to the source of much our info, ie. people whose primary intent was to undermine their culture.

The fact is, one couldn't just hurl themselves at the lines of Rome's legions. Believe me, we tried .... and not too prove what great fearless warriors we were or earn a "medal", but to protect our woman and children and friends and neighbours and elderly ... which is why the warrior is repaid with glory and how he earns the "name undying". And we died and died and died, just like everyone else that came up against Rome's legions. Not only were the legions of Rome organizationally superior, fighting as a unit rather than as a collection of einherijar or "single combatants", they were better armoured, better armed, and all of their forces were comprised of fulltime warriors.

A Teutonic tribal "army" however, was made up primarily of men that otherwise spent their days working or trading or smithing or herding or hunting ... working folk. They fought as single combatants, in kin-units, had a their cloth tunic and a wooden shield for protection, and their main weapon was a spear/javelin tipped with a shamefully small, but nevertheless effective amount of iron. While swords and helms and byrnies of iron were known, these were the found only amongst the wealthiest folks.

Speaking of wealth; the Teutonic tribes of the preMigrartion Age were governed by, and observed (for over 600 years) strict religious taboos regading the taking of slaves and booty. Quite unlike their distant cousins, the Romans, the Teutonic folk were divinely obliged to throw all of the spoils of war into bogs ... which was also the place they "deposited" capital criminals whose crimes were regarded as being particularly shameful, eg. pedophilia.

Following the Migration Age, this sacrificed plunder begins to reappear in such tales as Beowulf and the Volsung Saga, and unearthing it always brings doom to he offender.

It was only after a significant amount of contact with the Roman Empire and its remnants that the Teutonic tribes began to engage Rome's international slave-market, and pursue material gain. The wars of the earlier age were expressedly surivival/land oriented, with loss meaning, at best, a quick merciful death for one's entire tribe, and at worst a slow lingering death spent wandering, landless, and at the worlds mercy.

Anyway, the traditional image of the raging Teutonic tribesmen is ... misunderstood. One of the primary tactics of the elite Teutonic warrior was to intimidate their opponents and get them to freeze up with fear. And the various images and sounds they presented to the eye of their opponents -- from painting their bodies black and attacking after dark to biting their shields and frothing at the mouth -- were means to achieve this end.

Also, numerous tribes from the 1st century to the Viking Age were known to have elite warriors that fought naked except for a shield. One such tribe that was renowned for its fighting skill by the Romans was called the Heruli. Their name went on to become eruli in Viking Age Norse and was used specifically in reference to rune-masters. The legends that surround these "bare-shirted" fighters is that neither iron, nor fire could harm them, and this alludes ot the great grace of their fighting style ... for fire and iron harm ALL that they meet in the real world.

The skills and preeminance of the Teutonic warriors speak toward a great amount of discipline. And their code of ethics is the direct ancestor of the code of chivalry, eg. loyalty to lord, courage and selflesness, protection of the "weak" (some women, children, elderly), etc. They had far more in common with the samuri of anceint Japan, than they did, say, some sury biker.

Cheers!

"Ill tempered the wretch, who laughs at everyone. He cannot recognize, as he should, that he is not without faults." the High One, Poetic Edda

Edited by - Beowulf on 12 Feb 2006 17:30:41
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The Sage
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Posted - 13 Feb 2006 :  00:42:42  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Myssa Rei

Oddly enough, when I thought of a 'different' type of barbarian, Riverwind and his people popped into mind--hunters that relied more on guile than screaming-blood-frenzy-induced strength.
For the Que-Shu... Riverwind's tribe, that is true. However the Que-Kiri are a fierce tribe of barbarians respected for their strength and aggressiveness on the battlefield and are therefore more representative of the traditional view of a barbarian in a fantasy setting.

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Edited by - The Sage on 13 Feb 2006 00:44:38
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ShadowJack
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Posted - 13 Feb 2006 :  15:02:59  Show Profile  Visit ShadowJack's Homepage Send ShadowJack a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow! Beowulf,

What a great discourse on the ancient Germanic/teutonic culture and warriors. That kind of detail is what adds great flavor to a campaign. I never looked at the ancient Celts/Teutons from that angle. I always bought into the "attack for personal glory" line that you just dis-credited! Playing a barbarian/clansmen/tribesmen in this light adds great depth to a seemingly shallow character class. Very good insights and comparisons. Thank you, most worthy sage!

ShadowJack
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Beowulf
Learned Scribe

Canada
322 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2006 :  15:54:54  Show Profile  Visit Beowulf's Homepage Send Beowulf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ShadowJack

Wow! Beowulf,

What a great discourse on the ancient Germanic/teutonic culture and warriors. That kind of detail is what adds great flavor to a campaign. I never looked at the ancient Celts/Teutons from that angle. I always bought into the "attack for personal glory" line that you just dis-credited! Playing a barbarian/clansmen/tribesmen in this light adds great depth to a seemingly shallow character class. Very good insights and comparisons. Thank you, most worthy sage!



Thanks Shadowjack!

I wouldn't entirely dismiss the notion of personal glory, as that reward is wisely crafted to lure even the most selfish into a position of service. Of course, the tale of TyR binding the Fenriswolf makes the place of personal honour clear, ie. secondary to the "greater good". And Tyr is the god of heroic glory ... down to the very root of his name, ie. "heavenly radiance, god, hero", and such a by-name as "Leavings of the Wolf" ... the wolf being a frequent metaphor for the all devouring death and the grave. And of course, as the wellknown Norse addage states, "cattle die, kinsmen die and so shall you yourself, but one thing never dies ... a reputation honestly earned", ie. glory, the leavings of the wolf.




"Ill tempered the wretch, who laughs at everyone. He cannot recognize, as he should, that he is not without faults." the High One, Poetic Edda
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Bluenose
Learned Scribe

United Kingdom
134 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2006 :  16:23:14  Show Profile  Visit Bluenose's Homepage Send Bluenose a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beowulf

quote:
Originally posted by ShadowJack

Wow! Beowulf,

What a great discourse on the ancient Germanic/teutonic culture and warriors. That kind of detail is what adds great flavor to a campaign. I never looked at the ancient Celts/Teutons from that angle. I always bought into the "attack for personal glory" line that you just dis-credited! Playing a barbarian/clansmen/tribesmen in this light adds great depth to a seemingly shallow character class. Very good insights and comparisons. Thank you, most worthy sage!



Thanks Shadowjack!

I wouldn't entirely dismiss the notion of personal glory, as that reward is wisely crafted to lure even the most selfish into a position of service. Of course, the tale of TyR binding the Fenriswolf makes the place of personal honour clear, ie. secondary to the "greater good". And Tyr is the god of heroic glory ... down to the very root of his name, ie. "heavenly radiance, god, hero", and such a by-name as "Leavings of the Wolf" ... the wolf being a frequent metaphor for the all devouring death and the grave. And of course, as the wellknown Norse addage states, "cattle die, kinsmen die and so shall you yourself, but one thing never dies ... a reputation honestly earned", ie. glory, the leavings of the wolf.







It's perfectly possible that personal glory is more important to some people from "civilised" cultures than it was to many "barbarians". I certainly wouldn't think you could tell a Sembian duellist that personal honour and glory wasn't important and expect him/her to be particularly happy with you. And real world examples abound in all sorts of cultures.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
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Sarta
Senior Scribe

USA
505 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2006 :  07:55:34  Show Profile Send Sarta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With regard to tribesmen and other primitive lifestyles, it all comes down to the pressures put on them by environment, food-sources, and competition for this food.

Primitive people will do what it takes to adapt to these pressures.

I'd start there.

You seem to be looking for a more lawful desert tribesman.

If they are herders, they will likely be nomadic, needing to move their herds often to find good grazing ground. Their main food-source will be the animals they herd, so they may develop a very totemic relationship with these animals.

Their diet will likely be supplemented by either trade with others or through simple cultivation of plants, fruits, nuts, and seeds at the various watering holes they make use of. Their laws would be very strict regarding ownership of grazing areas, ownership and inheritence of their herd animals, protecting sources of potable water, and most likely in clearly defining the role between the male herdsmen and female cultivator.

Iron and other metals will likely have to be imported and treated as very rare and valuable. A steel sword would be something that is a mark of distinction, passed down from generation to generation in reverence. Only the most wealthy of tribes could afford any sort of smith, who would be treated with the reverence of a high priest. Whips, fire-hardened spears, clubs, and slings would be far more common in terms of weaponry, with the possible inclusion of exotic weapons such as the alt-atl, bola, and boomerang.

Standard tribesmen would likely be warriors and rangers with some women becoming mystics and druids. Possibly they have a role as wiseman, sorcerer, or shaman for men who do not fit into the standard herdsman mold. And possibly they are a bit more progressive and allow some of their women to herd.

Let me rip off another game setting, and propose a direction for an alternative core class that would fall into many of these categories -- the bison-riders of Prax (for those familiar with the Glorantha setting of Hero Quest/Runequest).

These individuals consider themselves brothers to the bison they herd -- relying on them for food, clothing, shelter, mounts, and beasts of burden. Designed as a core class, I'd simply tweak the ranger class a bit. I'd remove favored enemies and give them their animal companion at first level (a bison), rather than combat styles, I'd give them ride and ride based feats, and I'd tweak their spell list to make them more appropriate to the environment.

Sarta

Edited by - Sarta on 23 Feb 2006 07:59:43
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Bluenose
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Posted - 23 Feb 2006 :  17:00:28  Show Profile  Visit Bluenose's Homepage Send Bluenose a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sarta

With regard to tribesmen and other primitive lifestyles, it all comes down to the pressures put on them by environment, food-sources, and competition for this food.


As it does for everyone else. It's just a lot more obvious when you live at a subsistence level.

quote:
Primitive people will do what it takes to adapt to these pressures.

I'd start there.

You seem to be looking for a more lawful desert tribesman.

If they are herders, they will likely be nomadic, needing to move their herds often to find good grazing ground. Their main food-source will be the animals they herd, so they may develop a very totemic relationship with these animals.

Their diet will likely be supplemented by either trade with others or through simple cultivation of plants, fruits, nuts, and seeds at the various watering holes they make use of. Their laws would be very strict regarding ownership of grazing areas, ownership and inheritence of their herd animals, protecting sources of potable water, and most likely in clearly defining the role between the male herdsmen and female cultivator.


In a desert/arid environment water supply is also important, and determines the amount of grazing available. There may well be inter-tribal rules about how long a group can remain at a particular watering-hole, or even who can use it at all. If you have some settlements in the area then tension between nomadic and settled groups will be constant.

quote:
Iron and other metals will likely have to be imported and treated as very rare and valuable. A steel sword would be something that is a mark of distinction, passed down from generation to generation in reverence. Only the most wealthy of tribes could afford any sort of smith, who would be treated with the reverence of a high priest. Whips, fire-hardened spears, clubs, and slings would be far more common in terms of weaponry, with the possible inclusion of exotic weapons such as the alt-atl, bola, and boomerang.


Not necessarily. If you can get the raw materials - iron ore and coal or charcoal - then it isn't too hard to make a small furnace/smelter from easily available materials. If there's a place where ore is available then it would probably be on a nomadic groups annual migration, and they could arrange to stop there for a while to make their iron.

quote:
Standard tribesmen would likely be warriors and rangers with some women becoming mystics and druids. Possibly they have a role as wiseman, sorcerer, or shaman for men who do not fit into the standard herdsman mold. And possibly they are a bit more progressive and allow some of their women to herd.


Adepts would probably be the main spellcasters.

quote:
Let me rip off another game setting, and propose a direction for an alternative core class that would fall into many of these categories -- the bison-riders of Prax (for those familiar with the Glorantha setting of Hero Quest/Runequest).


With the Basmoli as more standard barbarians.

quote:
These individuals consider themselves brothers to the bison they herd -- relying on them for food, clothing, shelter, mounts, and beasts of burden. Designed as a core class, I'd simply tweak the ranger class a bit. I'd remove favored enemies and give them their animal companion at first level (a bison), rather than combat styles, I'd give them ride and ride based feats, and I'd tweak their spell list to make them more appropriate to the environment.

Sarta



And of course the Bison riders regularly eat their brothers.

More particularly, while I agree that a ranger variant makes the most sense, I wouldn't make the animal companion compulsory for all. I'd replace favoured enemy with favoured terrain, granting bonuses to Survival, Hide, Move Silently, Spot, and Knowledge(Nature/Geography?). The ranger's combat style would be replaced by a selection of feats reflecting the particular lifestlye of the group, so nomads might have Mounted Combat and other feats. Let the rangers Animal Empathy reflect their bond with a particular animal by perhaps restricting it's range but giving it extra abilities - you can only use Animal Empathy with bison, but you can talk to the bison.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
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